A man who alleges one of his pinky fingers was snared in an airline armrest mechanism for nearly an hour during a flight to Los Angeles is suing two airlines, alleging negligence.
Stephen Keys' Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as defendants both American Airlines Inc. and SkyWest Airlines Inc. He's seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
A representative for American, one of several airlines that have flying agreements with SkyWest, referred all comment to SkyWest, which issued a statement this afternoon.
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"The comfort and safety of our passengers is our first priority," the SkyWest statement reads. "We worked with our partner American to reach out to Mr. Keys regarding his bruised finger and look forward to swiftly resolving this matter. Due to the ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further."
According to the suit filed Dec. 5, Keys boarded flight 3095 in Reno, bound for Los Angeles, about 12:40 p.m. Sept. 9 and sat in first class.
When Keys raised the right armrest to reach the seat belt strap, his right pinky finger became lodged inside a small hole under the armrest, according to the lawsuit.
"The spring mechanism embedded inside of this hole in the armrest applied intense pressure to plaintiff's finger, immediately inflicting injury, swelling and pain," the suit says.
While trying to remain composed, Keys tried again and again to dislodge his finger, according to his court papers.
"By this time, dozens of passengers became aware of Mr. Keys' perilous condition, causing his dire situation to become a humiliating public spectacle,'' the suit states. "By the end of it all, he remained entrapped in this nightmarish condition, suffering for nearly an hour."
Flight personnel and members of a fire department rescue team were unable to free Keys' finger, which was finally accomplished with the help of an airline mechanic who disassembled the armrest, the suit says.
The injury to his finger left Keys unable to perform such previously routine tasks as driving and playing with his children, according to his complaint, which says he experienced weeks of intense pain and severe emotional distress.